My recent Hawaiian adventure, albeit short, offered me many lessons leaving me forever changed.
One came in the early morning, as I ventured into the ocean by myself.
I learned of the beautiful Hawaiian temple, Ahuʻena Heiau, located in the ocean in front of my hotel. I was told it was a sacred place you could approach to ceremonially ‘make a sacrifice.’ I long awaited this lifetime adventure, and was willing to fully experience all I could. I was ready to transform, so learning this was a no-brainer. I was ready to make my sacrifice.
I was told you are to swim out to the temple, but not to turn your back to it upon your return. Sounded simple enough.
I awoke, put on my swimsuit, and immediately headed down to the ocean. The beach that usually held many tourists was bare, neatly combed awaiting their arrival. It was quiet. It was peaceful.
Before starting, I went into the nearby restaurant to confirm the steps (making sure to do it right). The lady there reaffirmed that it was forbidden to enter, but okay to approach the sacred temple. She also mentioned that I need not swim to it, as there was a path leading to it around the ocean.
As I returned to the beach, I did see the path. How simple that would be! But my heart said NO, I was to swim. The ocean beckoned me and I started stepping into her cool morning waters.
From shore, the temple did not seem far. Not until a few steps out did it appear to float further away. As I continued, the peacefulness of having the ocean to myself turned to fear. What if something happened? I was alone in the ocean. No one would know. No one could save me.
I was constantly looking down, watching my step (and verifying that I indeed was alone). This constant switch of focus, from temple to footing, caused a slight dizziness. I was uncertain how far I could walk. Will it drop off? Will I have the strength to swim?
I thought: ‘Maybe this isn’t the best time. Perhaps I should return later. I can get hydrated and some food, and there will be more people around should something happen and I need assistance.’
Again, my heart said NO. Not an option. I couldn’t stop now, I must continue my journey.
I looked back to see the progress I made, then forward to see the water I had yet to cover. I again peered down into the ocean. What is THAT? A snake? Slithering towards me on the ocean floor? I was at the halfway point. Do I swim over it? Do I turn back? Will it hurt me?
I took a quick few steps back to contemplate, then…
There, at my feet, was a beautiful angel-like, white tropical fish. She was alone, and swam right next to me for a bit, then as though guiding me, slowly swam forward.
I smiled, aware of my sign. I shall venture on! I didn’t come this far to turn around.
As I approached my sea snake, I quickly swam over. I did it! I arrived on the other side. I was safe! I was going to make it.
Then, as I was ALMOST THERE, I saw something lurking in the waters. It slowly moved back and forth and my eyes strained to see what it was. A FIN?!? Holy seashells, a fin? A shark? My eyes fixated on it, watching it’s every move.
I pondered, if this is a shark, and it approaches me, there is no way to out swim it. I have never encountered a shark before. I quickly took in my surroundings and noticed the lava rock ledge jetting out to my side. I swam towards it, thinking I could climb out if the shark did indeed advance towards me.
Arriving at my ‘safety point’ and having my exit strategy, I was still curious. Keeping close to my lava rock, I slowly stepped out again, trying to see this shark for all he was.
As I got closer, his fin lost it’s fin-ness. WHAT IS IT? OMG, is that…. is that really? Upon closer examination, my shark turned out to be (deep sigh) a sock. A flippin’ SOCK. Floating and filled with water. My life was threatened by a sock.
Relieved, I laughed and completed my journey, my sacrifice (a few scrapes on lava rocks no doubt sealing my ritual), and my backwards swim to shore.
(Yes, I did remove the sock from the ocean. I’m all about keeping her clean.)
By the way, I found out what my ‘sea snakes’ were the following morning. Palm leaves. Palm leaves on the ocean floor. Funny now, but aren’t most of our fears when we really face them for what they are? Don’t let palm leaves or socks stop you. SWIM ON!
Many fears bubbled up inside on this adventure, yet I swam on. I almost let a sock stop me, as well as other ‘unknowns.’
How many socks do you let stop you on your journeys? Those ‘perceived sharks’ that we are so certain may destroy us. Often times the things we fear, are nothing to be afraid of. They say fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real. Truth in this case for sure!
So what are your ‘socks?’ I’d love to hear! Please leave a comment below and let me know!
Oceans of love, and happy swimming life adventures!
p.s. It’s a fact that people kill more (WAY more) sharks than sharks kill people. So, even a ‘real shark’ fear isn’t as much of a reality as people think it is. Heck, a real shark may have been as threatening to me as my sock shark! Love and respect the ocean and all her inhabitants. Mahalo!